Before taking this class, I was mostly uncritical about the games I played. I don’t mean to say that I didn’t have opinions about the games I played (I certainly had lots of those), but rather that I didn’t examine the underlying mechanisms that made the games I love tick. I was happy to just experience the games for the enjoyment they provided. Throughout this class, I was really pushed to take a deeper look at these games. This began with the critical plays, which not only got me out of my comfort zone and trying new games, but also gave me a lot of practice with trying to piece together what worked and what didn’t. Looking back, I’m especially proud of one of the observations I made about the game Secret Hitler, noticing an unintended strategy which could in certain situations make the ending of the game a (rather un-fun) moot point. But, of course, the most effective way to start thinking critically about games is to try and make one yourself. Working with my teammates was a great experience, and I think I really got to confront a variety of important decisions that go into any game design, from balance to audience selection. It was especially helpful that alongside learning how to critique games, I also got a lot more practice in both giving and receiving feedback. This helped make sure that the lessons stuck, and that I was able to take full advantage of the insights my classmates had made into our games in specific and game design in general. Going forward, I’m excited to take advantage of the general design principles I’ve learned (something I hadn’t been exposed to before), especially as my PhD research will be in the Games and AI lab at NYU! I’m also very proud to have two completed games under my belt (as I’ve had game design as a hobby for many years but have never finished a game before) and am looking forward to using my experience to help me finish more in the future!